Januaray 9, 2011 Iran Bomb 4 Years Away, More Haredim Granted Exemptions, The Shooting in Arizona

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

Januaray 9, 2011 Iran Bomb 4 Years Away, More Haredim Granted Exemptions, The Shooting in Arizona

Major news was made at the end of last week, when outgoing Mossad Chief Meir Degan, made his farewell appearance at the Knesset. Degan testified that Iran will not get the nuclear weapon until 2015. That is a significant delay from the six months to a year that had previously been discussed. The delay is clearly a result of actions taken by Israel, and maybe others, to sabotage the project. This development changes the Iranian problem from an imminent threat to one that still has time to be managed. If it has been delayed until 2015 without having to drop one traceable bomb, then there is nothing to say that that time table cannot be extended even further.

Today the government announced it approved a plan to increase the number of Haredim who are being drafted or who will be required to do alternative National Service. The Kadima party denounced the announcement as a farce. If reality, this recent announcement is indeed more than a little misleading. Under the plan the number of Haredim doing service over the next five years will grow from 2,400 to 4,800 not exactly a revolution. More importantly, as part of this plan 12,000 Haredim who today would not be exempt will now be exempt. The fact that the plan was approved with support from all the Haredim party, tells the whole story.

A rift is deepening in and around Shas. Today Shas voted against the proposed increase by the government in funding for the fire fighters, claiming it was not enough and had to many conditions attached. Netanyahu publicly chastised Yishai for spending too much time covering himself, as opposed to actually doing something. Meantime, ever since the fire, Yishai has been the favorite target of the public. Last week the mourners at the official memorial service for those who died in the Carmel fires would not let the service continue until Yishai left. Yishai is feeling abandoned by Netanyahu and is said to be questioning the total embrace he had given Netanyahu. All of this, without describing the recent internal criticism of Yishai within the ranks of Shas.

The tragic shootings in Arizona yesterday have a Jewish facet to them. I first became aware that Representative Giffords was Jewish when I checked the latest news from Israel yesterday evening. The Ha'aretz web site's headline read "Jewish Congresswoman from Arizona shot". This was the first widespread publication of the fact that Giffords was Jewish. Later in the evening, mainstream American press covered the fact that a special prayer service would be held at Giffords' Synagogue last that night. Today on Israeli television the issue of her Jewishness was aired. It was stated that her Father was Jewish but her Mother was not, therefore in Israel she would not be considered Jewish. London and Kirshbaum then aired a clip from an interview with Giffords a few years ago when she was Israel. The clip began showing Gifford blowing a shofar. She is then interviewed and asked about the fact that she would not be considered Jewish in Israel. Giffords states that her father was Jewish, but her mother was a Christian Scientists. She then goes on to say that she is a Reform Jew and that in the Reform movement, as long as one parent is Jewish then you are considered to be Jewish. Giffords went on to say that if she wanted to make aliyah she would be accepted in Israel under the Law of Return, since that law only requires one Jewish grandparent to be considered Jewish. The Jewish people have a lot to figure out.

As to the shooting itself, we do not know yet whether the fact Giffords was a self-identified Jew or the fact that she is a Democrat was the cause or a contributing factor to the shooting. What is clear is that the tone of demonization in the political discourse in this country can easily lead to these shootings. Furthermore, when asked about gun control in Arizona, the sheriff of Tuscon stated: "it is clear we are the Tombstone of America". Well, Tombstone was not really a very safe place to live.

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